Fighting (locally) for our future
For those of you who are championing for the planet at home, at work and at school, please know that I understand it is not easy, but small, local victories are what matter the most. We may not all be Greta Thunbergs with a global voice, but without those of us out here fighting the good fight everyday, her work would be futile.
It is hard and it can be very stressful when trying to help people understand why their choices matter. For example, you may get a laugh from somebody if you tell them that water from the tap is better for them than drinking water from plastic. This idea may take some processing time because there are many people who have gotten into the bad habit of bottled water. However, if you continue to gently remind friends and family that tap water is clean and safe and a much better choice than bottled water (and cheaper) you are indeed making a difference for the earth.
As you go about living your life every day, you will encounter situations that heavily utilize single-use items. I encourage you to pay attention to where and why this is being done. If single-use items are being provided when reusable items could easily substitute, such as at a private home or smaller gathering, think about how you might be able to change that in the future. Possibly after the event you can send a polite email about why you think it’s important to avoid single-use products whenever possible, and provide reasonable alternatives such as purchasing dinnerware and glassware at local thrift stores, or if you own extra glasses you can offer to loan them out. I purchased about 50 extra glasses a few years ago to use at a party I was hosting and I have loaned them out many times to friends and acquaintances for their own parties.
If you are attending a larger event, you will likely notice heavy use of single-use plastic. Earth-friendly equivalents cost a lot more money. However, it is my view that the added cost of those materials is something that has become unavoidable when the need for single-use items arises. For example, it needs to be viewed as an increase of an expense, and accounted for that way. Just as the cost of other every day items fluctuate: gas, coffee, groceries, etc., the price of earth-friendly disposables must become an expense that is budgeted for when planning events. Just because plastic is much cheaper and saves money does not mean it is the right thing to choose because the cost to the planet is astronomical.
When you are at events that are using single-use items, pay attention to what kind they are. You may be surprised that many event planners are consistently using earth-friendly items already. If you notice this, please make a point to thank the hosts or organizers. Thanking people for their good choices goes a long way. If you are at an event with all single-use plastics, it is important to know that the waste from that event will still be on earth in thousands and thousands of years, either in a landfill or in the lake or other waterway.
I am not the only person who feels upset and disgusted at events that provide guests with all plastic items that are used for a few minutes only remain on earth for eternity. After such an event, I encourage you to gently ask organizers or hosts to consider earth-friendly disposables in the future. Just like smoking, single use plastics are becoming taboo. Sure, people still smoke but it is not socially acceptable, just like someday in the very near future it will not be socially acceptable to trash the earth at events. People may do it, but at the risk of turning guests off.
If each of us used our individual voices to help others understand the dire necessity of protecting the planet, we are helping progress be made in our own communities.
If you can help even one event become earth-friendly, you are making a huge difference! And please know that you will encounter resistance, probably plenty of it as these ideas take hold and spread, but hopefully you are planting seeds that will grow one day into understanding that protecting the earth is a top priority and the responsibility of each of us. Imagine our combined influence if each and every one of us did this!
I’ll leave you with this quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”